Being Good.

March 15, 2015

Today is National Good Deeds Day, and it got me thinking about how my husband and I teach our children to be “good.” What does that mean? Does it mean being polite? Asking to be excused before jumping out of your seat when you’re finished with dinner? Does it mean simply being kind?

I’d like to think my kids are learning kindness in small ways every day. I try to lead by example, saying please and thank you to the cashier at the grocery store, holding doors for people, letting that one extra person cross the street when I’m in the car at a stop sign. But isn’t that just being polite?

So, in honor of Good Deeds Day and in an effort to be more conscious, kind and present in the world, I decided to make a list (I love lists) of ways our family – and yours – can be more involved in our community and the world at large.

1) Book Mentors: This is very cool. Book Mentors uses micropatronage to help solve book access problems in high-poverty schools across the country. Instead of just purging your bookshelf and dropping a pile of books off at your local elementary school (although that’s a wonderful good deed, too!), Book Mentor allows you to buy books already requested by teachers and have them shipped directly to that teacher’s classroom. Sit down at your computer with your little one and peruse the lists of requested books. Let your kiddo decide which book they want to donate. Then, just a few simple clicks and – voila! – good deed complete. And, spread the word to your kids’ teachers and let them know they can create their own classroom wish list.

2) Rescue an Animal: Have you been thinking about getting a family pet? With so many displaced and homeless animals out there, it’s important to support rescue organizations. First, if you’re considering getting a family pet, please don’t go to a puppy mill or breeder, contact one of your local animal rescue organizations. Responsible rescues do extensive evaluations on their animals and will be able to help pair you with the pet that’s right for you. We rescued our pup, Princess Cleopatra, from Red Paw Emergency Relief Team, which is an amazing local organization that helps animals (and their families) who have been displaced due to a fire or other catastrophe. While part of their mission is to reunite animals with their original families, that’s not always possible, so they often have pets up for adoption. Not interested in adopting a pet, but want to do something to help? You can make a donation to Red Paw directly through their website, or contact them to see how else you might be able to offer your support.

3) Volunteer: Yes, we’re all busy people with busy lives. But sometimes it’s important to pitch in and make a difference. Some organizations only ask for help at occasional events, while others ask for a regular number of hours each month. If you don’t know where to begin, check out SERVE Philadelphia, the Mayor’s volunteer initiative, which lists dozens of volunteer opportunities of all kinds. Whether you have 3 hours one time, or 15 hours a month, you’ll find something that’s right for you.

4) Be. Kind. Lend a hand. Hold a door. Pay a stranger a compliment. Do it because your children model their behavior after you. And do it because it’s the right thing to do.

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Mollie Michel is a South Philly resident, Philadelphia public school parent, and Editor of A Child Grows in Philly. A recovering non-profit professional, Mollie is also an experienced birth doula, Certified Lactation Counselor, and the mom of two awesome girls and a sweet pit bull named Princess Cleopatra. In her spare time, she is trying to figure out how Pinterest works, training for a(nother) half-marathon with her dog at her side, or simply trying to keep up with her increasingly wily daughters.